At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Midsouth — Labradar Chronograph and Accessories
Midsouth Shooters Supply is now carrying the advanced Labradar chronograph. This unique unit allows you to measure your shots without having to set up a tripod and skyscreens downrange. When you start using a Labradar, you’ll never want to go back to old-style chronographs. You can also purchase the Labradar from Bruno Shooters Supply. Price is $559.95 from either vendor. NOTE: Very soon Labradar plans to offer Bluetooth functionality, allowing you to control the machine remotely with your mobile device. This functionality will come via new software — the Bluetooth transceiver is built-in to all current Labradar units, so you can buy one now and use Bluetooth later (when the software is released).
2. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99
This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.
3. CDNN — Browning Maple X-Bolt Medallion, $849.99 with Rebate
CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These deluxe Maple-stocked X-Bolt Medallion Rifles are now on sale for $899.99, marked down from $1519.99. Plus, through March 31st, you can get another $50.00 off with a Browning Rebate. The machine-engraved receiver features a polished blued finish, and is glass bedded into the stock. The free-floating barrel is high-gloss blued, hand-chambered and finished with a target crown. The bolt has a 60° lift and the trigger is adjustable. The stock is a high gloss AAA maple with rosewood fore-end and pistol grip cap. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own. This Editor has ordered one as a gift to a family member — that should say something.
4. Amazon — Ammo Can/Gun Case/Range Bag System, $44.99
This Plano 1612 X2 Range Bag System combines a plastic ammo can-type container with a two-pistol hardshell case, both enclosed in a durable, padded fabric cover with many pockets. This handy system lets you keep pistols in a separate locked compartment while still accessing ammo, muffs and other gear from the main compartment, which can also be secured with a padlock. This is a clever, versatile design, and owner reviews have been very positive:
“The perfect range bag. It comes with a nice gun case, more pockets than shown, plenty of storage for earphones, several boxes of ammo and room to spare. Would buy again!” — Nate K
“The problem with most range bags is that they are range ‘bags’. This is an ammo can with pockets for all your other gear. No more ‘saggy baggy’!” — MPowders
5. Sportsman’s Guide — 1000 Rds 9mm Ammo, $204.99 delivered
Everyone can use a 1000-round case of 9mm Luger Ammo. This Sellier & Bellot 124gr FMJ brass-cased ammo feeds and functions well. We’ve checked around and this $204.99/1000 price is one of the best deals on brass-cased 9mm ammo this week (for SG members, the cost is $194.99). Plus you can get FREE shipping with CODE SH2656 at checkout. We have shot this ammo in Glock, H&K, Sig Sauer, and S&W pistols. Rated at 1080 fps, this 9mm ammo was very reliable, and the boxer-primed cases are reloadable.
6. Cabelas — Simmons 20-60x60mm Spotter, $49.99 with Rebate
Let’s be realistic — this 20-60x60mm Simmons is NOT a great spotting scope. The sharpness is nowhere near as good as you’d get with a $1000+ spotter. However, you can now get this unit for under fifty bucks with manufacturer’s rebate. Cabela’s Sale Price is $59.99 and Vista Outdoor is offering a $10 Rebate. For basic work, such as viewing pistol targets, or spotting hits out to 250 yards, this bargain basement Simmons should suffice. Read the owner reviews — they have been surprisingly good. This scope will also work for general recreational use. Hard to beat for fifty bucks.
7. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45
These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.
Here’s a good deal on the new Lyman 50th Ed. Reloading Manual. Our Forum members have rated this as the best Loading Manual for starting hand-loaders. This 50th Edition, the first to be produced in full color, includes more load data, and covers more cartridges than ever before. New Cartridges Include: 17 Hornet, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284, 26 Nosler, 28 Nosler, 300 Blackout, 300 RCM, 338 RCM, 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM, 50 Beowulf. Amazon has the Softcover version for $19.99 and Hardcover for $23.99. Notably, Lyman donates $1.00 to the NRA for every Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook sold during the first year of publication.
9. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $16.45
Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With over 2300 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.74, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.
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CZ offers good “bang for the buck” in both rimfire and centerfire rifle line-ups. We’ve always liked the CZ 455 rimfire rifles — especially as fitted in Manners stocks. For 2017, CZ has introduced some interesting new options including a great looking new Model 557 Varmint rifle. Here we’ve embedded a couple videos that cover the new offerings. New CZ 2017 Firearms LINK.
New Model 557 Varmint
The new CZ Model 557 Varmint rifle features a new, ergonomic stock with a heavy contour 25.6″ barrel. The newly-designed walnut stock features a palm swell, laser-cut stippling, and a flat fore-end. This makes the rifle excellent for shooting off a bench with a front rest. The 557 Varmint is chambered in .308 Win or .243 Win. We suspect most purchasers will get the .243 Win version for use in the varmint fields. Note however, the 6mm barrel has a 1:10″ twist so you can’t shoot the heavier 95 to 110-grain 6mm bullets. Potentially, the .308 Win version could be a budget F-TR rifle, with the right bipod set-up up front. The 1:10″ twist of the .30-Cal barrel allows it to shoot bullets up to about 200 grains, making it suitable for long-range competitions.
CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer
The 455 Precision Trainer was designed to provide the same look and feel as a full-size tactical rifle while allowing for more economical training. Using a Manners Composite T4 stock, the Precision Trainer wears a new camouflage paint scheme this year. The stock itself has multiple layers of carbon fiber and fiberglass hand-laid in high temperature epoxy resins. This rifle is known for good accuracy, making it a good choice for target work as well as rimfire tactical games. This is offered in both 20″ and 24″ barrel versions. The 24-inch model has a heavy barrel that tapers to the muzzle, differing from the standard .866″-diameter Varmint barrel profile.
NEW .30-Caliber Model 527
The new Suppressor-Ready Model 527 is equally happy shooting steel or taking down hogs. Chambered in .300 Blackout or 7.62×39mm, it’s got enough knock-down power for small to medium-sized game at shorter ranges. Built on a short .223-length action, the CZ 527 features a classic American pattern stock, a sporter-weight, hammer-forged barrel, a single set trigger, and a recessed target crown. Made to be used with optics, the American version ships with 1″ steel scope rings.
More CZ Rifle News from SHOT Show 2017
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If you plan to travel far from home this year with firearms, then you should research legal requirements before you head to the airport or hit the road in your car or truck. To help Road Warriors, The Shooting Wire website recently published an excellent article concerning Travel with Firearms. This helpful article by Joe Balog features smart advice from 3-Gun competitor Rich Yoder.
Here are Highlights from the Travel with Firearms Article…
Traveling by Road:
Regulations for transporting firearms in a vehicle vary from state to state. Some are quite lenient, while others are much stricter. Within many states, gun transportation laws also vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If possible, keep your gun cases locked in your vehicle’s trunk or truck bed, as long as your bed has weather-tight and lockable security. If your guns are outside the passenger compartment, in a case, unloaded, and kept separate from ammunition, you’ll be in compliance with all but the strictest of local and state gun laws.
Traveling by Air:
When checking in at the airport, travelers need to declare that they are traveling with a gun. At that point, airline personnel will quickly advise the traveler of the need to open his or her case and inspect the firearm. Always wait for the TSA inspector before unlocking or opening the case, and only do so when clearly directed to do so by TSA personnel. Never take a firearm out of its case in an airport.
You have the right to remain with your firearm at all times during the inspection process. Never leave your firearm until the inspection is complete, the case has been re-locked, and you are in possession of the key or combination.
There are additional steps during international travel. Specifically, guns must clear customs in the destination country, and once again when entering back into the United States. Multiple government forms may need to be completed and carried with the firearm, like U.S. Customs Form 4457. Be sure to check into all required paperwork well before traveling.
Readers who have just recently discovered the Daily Bulletin may not realize that AccurateShooter.com has hundreds of reference articles in our archives. These authoritative articles are divided into mutiple categories, so you can easily view stories by topic (such as competition, tactical, rimfire, optics, shooting skills etc.). One of the most popular categories is our Technical Articles Collection. On a handy index page (with thumbnails for every story), you’ll find over 100 articles covering technical and gunsmithing topics. These articles can help you with major projects (such as stock painting), and they can also help you build more accurate ammo. Here are five popular selections from our Technical Articles archive.
Here are all the Bracket Choices. Click Image to Zoom Out So You Can Read Gun Names.
March is tournament time! Here’s a tournament for firearms fans — the 2017 NRA Blog Official Gun Bracket. The NRA’s selection committee has narrowed the field of firearms down to 64, including 32 of the most popular modern firearms on one side, and 32 historical classics on the other.
Here’s a Sample Bracket Question. CLICK HERE to VOTE.
The guns featured include everything from flintlocks, early repeaters and single-action revolvers of yesteryear to the latest AR-15s, carry pistols, performance shotguns and precision rifles of today. Readers vote on each head-to-head matchup, determining which firearm prevails all the way to championship round, when the top historic gun takes on the top modern firearm for the final “Top Gun” winner. CLICK HERE to VOTE.
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This story appears courtesy NRABlog.com.
Looking to get started in Multi-Gun competition? The NRA Outdoors 3-Gun School is a two-day course covering all the skills you’ll need to compete in the 3-Gun game. The course, hosted at Peacemaker National Training Center in West Virginia, provides hands-on training for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Participants experience a fast-paced mix of lessons and firing drills, including actual 3-Gun stages.
Video Shows Highlights from NRA Outdoors 3-Gun School Training Sessions:
You don’t even have to bring guns or load your own ammo. The NRA Outdoors 3-Gun School includes everything you need with the $1600.00 price of admission. You don’t need to bring any guns, ammunition or gear! The NRA Outdoors 3-Gun School provides all firearms, ammo and equipment used for the course, including Armalite AR-pattern rifles, Benelli shotguns customized by Hayes Custom Guns, SIG Sauer pistols, and Vortex Optics.
3-Gun Comps — What the Multi-Gun Game is All About
Most 3-Gun matches consist of 8 to 12 stages, with shooters engaging as many as 35 targets per stage. You’ll shoot at paper silhouettes as close as 10 feet away, and steel targets as far out as 600 yards. Time is of the essence — all stages are “on the clock”. You’re racing from station to station, your synapses firing as your transition from shotgun to rifle to pistol, close to long range, around corners, and over barriers.
You’ll encounter spinner wheels, swinging bowling pins and zooming clay pigeons, all while rushing through and around a bevy of walls, barrels, windows and even vehicles. Some 3-Gun matches are shot at night (see above), where the artificial illumination creates an entirely different set of challenges.
How to Participate
You can register now for the NRA Outdoors 3-Gun School. The first class of the year is scheduled for April 14-15, 2017. More classes will be offered in May, June and August. If you’re interested, register soon — these programs fill quickly.
CLICK HERE for more information about the NRA Outdoors 3-Gun School. Learn about other training courses by visiting the NRA Outdoors website or call (844) 672-6883.
Hardware for 3-Gun Competition — Guns & Gear
In this NSSF video, Top Shot Finalist Chris Cerino reviews the hardware you’ll need for multi-gun matches. Chris talks about carbine configurations — including barrel, handguard, and optics options. Cerino also demonstrates pistol techniques and explains the key features of a belt/holster rig.
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In the archives of The First Shot (the CMP’s Online Magazine), SGT Walter E. Craig of the USAMU discusses physical conditioning for competitive shooters, particularly High Power competitors. Fitness training is an important subject that, curiously, is rarely featured in the shooting sports media. We seem to focus on hardware, or esoteric details of cartridge reloading. Yet physical fitness also matters, particularly for High Power shooters. In his article, Craig advocates: 1) weight training to strengthen the Skeletal Muscle System; 2) exercises to build endurance and stamina; and 3) cardiovascular conditioning programs to allow the shooter to remain relaxed with a controlled heart beat.
SGT Craig explains: “An individual would not enter a long distance race without first spending many hours conditioning his/her body. One should apply the same conditioning philosophy to [shooting]. Physical conditioning to improve shooting skills will result in better shooting performance…. The objective of an individual physical training program is to condition the muscles, heart, and lungs thereby increasing the shooter’s capability of controlling the body and rifle for sustained periods.”
In addition to weight training and cardio workouts (which can be done in a gym), SGT Craig advocates “some kind of holding drill… to develop the muscles necessary for holding a rifle for extended periods.” For those with range access, Craig recommends a blind standing exercise: “This exercise consists of dry-firing one round, then live-firing one round, at a 200-yard standard SR target. For those who have access only to a 100-yard range, reduced targets will work as well. Begin the exercise with a timer set for 50 minutes. Dry-fire one round, then fire one live round and without looking at the actual impact, plot a call in a data book. Continue the dry fire/live fire sequence for 20 rounds, plotting after each round. After firing is complete, compare the data book to the target. If your zero and position are solid, the plots should resemble the target. As the training days add up and your zero is refined, the groups will shrink and move to the center.”
Fitness training and holding drills help position shooters reach their full potential.
Training for Older Shooters
Tom Alves has written an excellent article A Suggested Training Approach for Older Shooters. This article discusses appropriate low-impact training methods for older shooters. Tom explains: “Many of the articles you will read in books about position shooting and the one mentioned above are directed more toward the younger generation of shooters in their 20s. If you look down the line at a typical high power match these days you are likely to see quite a few folks who are in their middle 30s and up. Many people in that age range have had broken bones and wear and tear on their joints so a training program needs to take that into account. For instance, while jogging for an extended period for heart and lung conditioning may be the recommended approach for younger folks, it may be totally inappropriate for older people.”
Have you recently purchased a new scope? Then you should verify the actual click value of the turrets before you use the optic in competition (or on a long-range hunt). While a scope may have listed click values of 1/4-MOA, 1/8-MOA or 0.1 Mils, the reality may be slightly different. Many scopes have actual click values that are slightly higher or lower than the value claimed by the manufacturer. The small variance adds up when you click through a wide range of elevation.
In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics shows how to verify your true click values using a “Tall Target Test”. The idea is to start at the bottom end of a vertical line, and then click up 30 MOA or so. Multiply the number of clicked MOA by 1.047 to get the claimed value in inches. For example, at 100 yards, 30 MOA is exactly 31.41 inches. Then measure the difference in your actual point of impact. If, for example, your point of impact is 33 inches, then you are getting more than the stated MOA with each click (assuming the target is positioned at exactly 100 yards).
How to Perform the Tall Target Test
The objective of the tall target test is to insure that your scope is giving you the proper amount of adjustment. For example, when you dial 30 MOA, are you really getting 30 MOA, or are you getting 28.5 or 31.2 MOA? The only way to be sure is to verify, don’t take it for granted! Knowing your scopes true click values insures that you can accurately apply a ballistic solution. In fact, many perceived inaccuracies of long range ballistics solutions are actually caused by the scopes not applying the intended adjustment. In order to verify your scope’s true movement and calculate a correction factor, follow the steps in the Tall Target Worksheet. This worksheet takes you thru the ‘calibration process’ including measuring true range to target and actual POI shift for a given scope adjustment. The goal is to calculate a correction factor that you can apply to a ballistic solution which accounts for the tracking error of your scope. For example, if you find your scope moves 7% more than it should, then you have to apply 7% less than the ballistic solution calls for to hit your target.
NOTE: When doing this test, don’t go for the maximum possible elevation. You don’t want to max out the elevation knob, running it to the top stop. Bryan Litz explains: “It’s good to avoid the extremes of adjustment when doing the tall target test.I don’t know how much different the clicks would be at the edges, but they’re not the same.”
Should You Perform a WIDE Target Test Too?
What about testing your windage clicks the same way, with a WIDE target test? Bryan Litz says that’s not really necessary: “The wide target test isn’t as important for a couple reasons. First, you typically don’t dial nearly as much wind as you do elevation. Second, your dialed windage is a guess to begin with; a moving average that’s different for every shot. Whereas you stand to gain a lot by nailing vertical down to the click, the same is not true of windage. If there’s a 5% error in your scope’s windage tracking, you’d never know it.”
Verifying Scope Level With Tall Target Test
Bryan says: “While setting up your Tall Target Test, you should also verify that your scope level is mounted and aligned properly. This is critical to insuring that you’ll have a long range horizontal zero when you dial on a bunch of elevation for long range shots. This is a requirement for all kinds of long range shooting. Without a properly-mounted scope level (verified on a Tall Target), you really can’t guarantee your horizontal zero at long range.”
NOTE: For ‘known-distance’ competition, this is the only mandatory part of the tall target test, since slight variations in elevation click-values are not that important once you’re centered “on target” at a known distance.
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It’s officially Spring — the Vernal Equinox took place this Monday March 20, 2017. For many shooters, the coming of Spring means that it’s time to head out to the varmint fields. Here are five items that can help ensure successful spring varmint adventures.
Five Great Products for Varmint Shooters
1. BarrelCool In-Action Fan
Busy Varmint shooters may expend hundreds of rounds in a day. That’s tough on barrels. One way to extend your round count is to use the ingenious BarrelCool device. This little yellow gadget fits in your action with a blower tube that goes into the chamber. A small electric fan blows cooling air through the barrel. It really works — folks who’ve purchased the Barrel Cool and run temp strips on their barrel say the BarrelCool can significantly reduce the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel.
In the past, folks have tried various methods to cool barrels: water flushed through the bore, CO2 tanks, even battery-operated fish pumps. BarrelCool is a simpler, less costly, and much handier solution. Priced at $34.99, this small device can potentially can save you money by extending barrel life. To see how Barrelcool works, visit BarrelCool.com. There you’ll find video demos of BarrelCool units in both bolt-action and AR-type rifles.
2. Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag Sandbag
On most varmint hunts we spend most of the time shooting from a portable bench with a pedestal-type rest (we like the SEB Mini). But it’s nice having a big, heavy X-Type sandbag rig also. These four-chamber designs, such as the Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, allow shooting from a truck hood or any flat surface. Some rifles with narrow fore-ends really benefit from the firm “hug” provided by these “butterfly” style sandbags. We like the 15″ Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, currently $53.10 at Amazon. Durable and well-made, it will provide years of service. Forum member Stoner24mkiv likes a Bulls Bag for shooting from a vehicle. He also suggests: “[take] an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. Bring a Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.”
3. Scope with Built-In Laser Rangefinder
The Burris Eliminator III is an impressive piece of electro-optical technology. With a push of a button, a built-in laser rangefinder senses the distance to your target and the Eliminator’s microprocessor instantly calculates the required hold-over based on your load’s ballistics. The calculated aiming point is then displayed in the reticle with an illuminated red dot on the vertical cross-hair. Just put the red dot on the target and make the shot. Easy as that. If you are working a large prairie dog field and constantly moving near to far and back again, this scope is really handy. Laze, adjust aim with the dot, and squeeze the trigger. Its that simple. We’ve used this scope out to 500 yards on small steel targets and it worked flawlessly.
4. Bulk .22 Cal Varmint Bullets — Under $50.00 for 500
Right now Midsouth Shooters’ Supply is running a special on Varmint Nightmare XTreme Bullets. Available in both hollow point (HP) and lead-tip soft point (SP) styles, you can get these bullets for under $50.00 for 500. The .224 55gr Flat Base Soft Point variety is on sale this week for just $42.92 for 500 bullets (that works out to just $8.58 per hundred). We’ve loaded these in .223 Rem, 22 Dasher, and 22-250 cartridges and they worked well (considering the really low price).
5. Low-Fouling Power for High-Volume Varmint Loads
For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time. You may want to check it out.
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Could you hit an 18″ x 24″ target at a distance of 435 yards (roughly 400 meters)? Sure, you’re thinking, that would be easy with a good rifle fired from the bench or prone position. OK, now think about making that shot, OFF-HAND with a pistol. That’s something entirely different. We doubt many marksman would wager they could hit a plate 400 meters away with a handgun.
That’s exactly the challenge legendary shooter Jerry Miculek undertakes in this interesting video. Shooting a Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P pistol with a red-dot optic, Jerry makes the 400m shot look easy, hitting the steel plate with his first shot. This takes good eyes, a solid grip, perfect trigger control (and a bit of luck). Jerry was shooting 115gr Hornady HAP® ammunition.
25 Feet Hold-over to Make Shot at 435 yards
The shot wasn’t dead center, but Miculek still hit the steel plate on the first try. This is doubly impressive because Miculek had to hold well over the target. In fact Jerry figured he was aiming “25 feet over [the target]”. The lesson to be learned here is that a good pistol, in the hands of a master, may be capable of astonishing long-range accuracy — as long as you work out the ballistics in advance. Jerry knew that he had to hold high to arc the bullet into the target.
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Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly and easily adjust shoulder bump during the full-length sizing process, without struggling to move die lock-rings by trial and error (or fiddle with shims). Well you can. The PMA Micro Die Adjuster is a brilliant little device that replaces the lock ring on your FL sizing die. It allows you to move the die up and down in precise, tiny increments. The tool has .001″ index marks, but you can easily set your die between the marks to achieve .0005″ (half-thousandth) adjustments.
To see how the PMA Micro-Die Adjuster works, watch this video by our friend Boyd Allen:
Many of our Forum members now use the PMA Micro Die Adjuster, and they give this specialty tool high praise. Here are actual reviews by Forum members and other verified tool buyers. Read more comments in this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.
PMA Micro Die Adjuster User Reviews
“No more ‘close enough’ for headspace[.] With this tool set-up it’s easy to put headspace exactly where you want it, then repeat it exactly for subsequent batches for the same cartridge.” — JohnF
“I have four of these Micro Adjuster rings and all I can say is that it works and it is repeatable. I bump my brass .0005″-.001″ and this die lock ring will do it without issue.” — TrapperT
“I size brass for four different 6.5×47 rifles (chambered with three different reamers) using a single die, set in the PMA Adjuster. I have to say… I should have bought one sooner. Adjusting it is very quick and repeatable to well under .001.” — /VH
“I’ve been using PMA’s lock ring for some time now and find it to be very easy to adjust to within .0005″ on a single piece of brass. Very quick to do as well. One thing I have found is that if you still need that half-thou adjustment I will run the brass once more at the same setting before I make that .0005″ adjustment and 50 percent of the time that does the trick. The marked increments are in .001″ scale so if you go half way in between there’s your half-thousandth.
PMA Micro-Adjuster vs. Shims
Many hand-loaders have abandoned shims after trying the PMA Micro Die Adjuster:
“Shims [require] you to completely remove the die. That gets old rather quickly after having used the PMA adjustable lock ring.” — Patch 700
“Great product. Shims used to drive me crazy, put a .002 in and get .0035 of change. With this if you want .0015 set it and that’s what you get.” — John B
“I like mine — adjustments are easy and it will adjust very fine. I used to use .001″ shims. Now can adjust my bump as fine as I want.” — Joe139
Product Description from PMA Tool
The PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster (MDA) replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. We successfully used this tool with sizing dies from Redding, RCBS, Hornady, Lee, Harrells Precision and those made from Newlon Precision die blanks. It allows you to easily make adjustments to your “shoulder bump” as fine as .0005″. The engraved marks on the MDA are equal to approximately .001 inches (true adjustment .000992″) of adjustment to the shoulder bump. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″. The design of the MDA does not allow it to work with the Forster Co-Ax press. Some custom dies for very short cartridges may require the use of an extended shellholder. Micro Die Adjuster shown in use installed on Custom Newlon/Scott 6mm PPC Die and Harrells Precision Compact Press.
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This article based on story by Jason J. Brown, EditorNRABlog.com
Americans are purchasing firearms at a historic rate, with more than 27 million NICS background checks performed in 2016, the closest indicator of gun sales in the U.S. Gun ownership is a great responsibility, entailing not only a well-formed understanding of the basic rules of gun safety while shooting, but at all times. Gun safety is never more important than inside your own home. Gun safety isn’t just for gun owners — it’s a critical skill for everyone.
The NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program has taught more than 29 million American youth what to do if they find a unsecured gun. Adults should also know how to properly handle a gun, load and unload it, perform basic maintenance, and safely store it so unauthorized persons can’t access it.
In the Home Firearm Safety Course, students will also learn about gun parts, ammunition, basic gun cleaning and care, and provide hands-on training on how to safely unload select types of guns. Each participant receives the NRA Home Firearm Safety handbook, NRA Gun Safety Rules brochure, Basic Firearm Training Program brochure, and a course completion certificate.
The NRA’s network of more than 128,000 NRA Certified Instructors delivers the Home Firearm Safety Course at locations nationwide. To find a course near you or learn about other NRA Training programs, visit the NRA Training portal.
Each Wednesday the USAMU offers tips for handloaders on the USAMU Facebook page. This article from the “Handloading Hump-Day” archives should interest pistol competitors, an any shooter who enjoys getting the best possible accuracy from their fine pistols. In this article, the USAMU’s experts share key tips that can help optimize your pistol ammo. Follow this tips to produce more consistent ammo, that can shoot higher scores.
Optimize the Taper Crimp
One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of crimp and its effect on accuracy. Different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors. It is not unusual for our Shop to vary a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ and re-test for finest accuracy.
Use Consistent Brass
Brass is also important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor/handloader to use brass of the same headstamp and ideally one lot number, to maximize uniformity. Given the volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea.
Importance of Uniform COAL
Uniformity of the Case Overall Length (COAL) as it comes from the factory is also important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, and so on. Cartridge case-length consistency varies from lot to lot, as well as by maker. Some manufacturers are more consistent in this dimension than others. [Editor’s note: It is easy to trim pistol brass to uniform length. Doing this will make your taper crimps much more consistent.]
Primers and Powders — Comparison Test for Accuracy
Pay attention to primer brands, powder types and charges. Evaluating accuracy with a Ransom or other machine rest at 50 yards can quickly reveal the effect of changes made to handload recipes.
Bullet Selection — FMJ vs. JHP
Bullets are another vital issue. First, there is the question of FMJ vs. JHP. A friend of this writer spent decades making and accuracy-testing rifle and pistol bullets during QC for a major bullet manufacturer. In his experience, making highly-accurate FMJ bullets is much more difficult than making highly-accurate JHPs, in large part due to the way the jackets are formed. Small die changes could affect accuracy of FMJ lots dramatically.
The CMP now allows “safe, jacketed ammunition” in Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Service Pistol matches, although wadcutter ammunition is prohibited. Thus, the option to use very accurate JHP designs simplifies the life of CMP Service Pistol shooters in pursuit of the prestigious Distinguished Pistol Shot badge.
Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to any pistol shooters interested in accurate handloads, not just “Bullseye” shooters. Small tweaks to one’s normal routine can pay big dividends in improved accuracy and make practice and competition more rewarding.
Stay safe, and good shooting!
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Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. This past week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article, the latest in a 7-part series, relates to chronograph testing and statistical samples. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tips that can benefit any hand-loader. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.
Chronograph Testing — Set-Up, Sample Sizes, and Velocity Factors
Initial Chronograph Setup
A chronograph is an instrument designed to measure bullet velocity. Typically, the bullet casts a shadow as it passes over two electronic sensors placed a given distance apart. The first screen is the “start” screen, and it triggers an internal, high-speed counter. As the bullet passes the second, or “stop” screen, the counter is stopped. Then, appropriate math of time vs. distance traveled reveals the bullet’s velocity. Most home chronographs use either 2- or 4-foot spacing between sensors. Longer spacing can add some accuracy to the system, but with high-quality chronographs, 4-foot spacing is certainly adequate.
Laboratory chronographs usually have six feet or more between sensors. Depending upon the make and model of ones chronograph, it should come with instructions on how far the “start” screen should be placed from one’s muzzle. Other details include adequate light (indoors or outdoors), light diffusers over the sensors as needed, and protecting the start screen from blast and debris such as shotgun wads, etc. When assembling a sky-screen system, the spacing between sensors must be extremely accurate to allow correct velocity readings.
Statistics: Group Sizes, Distances and Sample Sizes
How many groups should we fire, and how many shots per group? These questions are matters of judgment, to a degree. First, to best assess how ones ammunition will perform in competition, it should be test-fired at the actual distance for which it will be used. [That means] 600-yard or 1000-yard ammo should be tested at 600 and 1000 yards, respectively, if possible. It is possible to work up very accurate ammunition at 100 or 200 yards that does not perform well as ranges increase. Sometimes, a change in powder type can correct this and produce a load that really shines at longer range.
The number of shots fired per group should be realistic for the course of fire. That is, if one will be firing 10-shot strings in competition then final accuracy testing, at least, should involve 10-shot strings. These will reflect the rifles’ true capability. Knowing this will help the shooter better decide in competition whether a shot requires a sight adjustment, or if it merely struck within the normal accuracy radius of his rifle.
How many groups are needed for a valid test? Here, much depends on the precision with which one can gather the accuracy data. If shooting from a machine rest in good weather conditions, two or three 10-shot groups at full distance may be very adequate. If it’s windy, the rifle or ammunition are marginal, or the shooter is not confident in his ability to consistently fire every shot accurately, then a few more groups may give a better picture of the rifle’s true average.
Who hasn’t dreamed of having a professional-quality, permanent shooting bench on their own property? Well here’s an article that can help you make that dream come true. This “how-to” feature from the archives of RifleShooter Magazine shows how to build a quality concrete shooting bench step-by-step.
All aspects of the construction process are illustrated and explained. The author, Keith Wood explains: “Construction happened in three phases — first creating the slab foundation, then the support pillars (legs), and finally the table.”
Click image below to load article with slide show.
Each step in the process is illustrated with a large photo and descriptive paragraph. Starting with framing the foundation (Step 1), the article illustrates and explains the 15 Steps that produce the finished, all-concrete bench (see top photo).
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Sometimes everything comes together — a great barrel, the right load, good bullets, and, of course, a gifted trigger-puller. Check out this target from Forum member Mike Ezell. That’s five (5) shots at 100 yards from Mike’s 30 Major benchrest rifle. When this group was shot a while back, Mike reported: “I fired a few groups in the great weather. No surprises — it did VERY well! My little wildcat, the 30 Major, has always been a shooter. That target was not a fluke — I shot a few groups today and Agg’d a high One.” Mike is a Kentucky gunsmith who builds his own rifles.
30 Major is Based on 6.5 Grendel
What’s a “30 Major” you ask? This is Mike’s own wildcat, a 6.5 Grendel necked up to .30 caliber. Mike writes: “The 30 Major is essentially a .070″-long 30 PPC. With the great 6.5 Grendel brass available from Lapua, all you need to do is neck-up and turn the necks to prep the brass.” Mike says it is very much like a 30 BR, but you just start with 6.5 Grendel brass instead of 6mmBR brass.
The cartridge has one major benefit — it utilizes a PPC-diameter bolt face. That makes it easy to convert your group-shooting 6 PPC to shoot score with .30-cal bullets. Mike explains: “If you have a PPC, to shoot score, all you have to do is chamber up a [.30 caliber] barrel and screw it on your PPC.”
From 7.62×39 Russian to 30 Major — Full Circle
Arms expert Neil Gibson has an interesting perspective on the lineage of the 30 Major. He reminds us that this wildcat has returned to its roots: “Start off with the 7.62×39 Russian [cartridge]. The Russians then modify it, necking it down to .223 for deer hunting. The U.S. benchrest guys then modify that, necking it up to 6mm and blowing the case out making the 6mm PPC. Someone takes that case, necks it out to 6.5 mm, making the 6.5 PPC. Alexander Arms takes that and makes the 6.5 Grendel. Then finally Mike Ezell takes the Grendel and necks it up to 30 caliber, making the 30 Major. From 30 caliber, back to 30 caliber. OK, the original uses .31 caliber bullets, but the bore is still .300. Talk about almost coming round full circle!”
The 7.62×39 Russian was the Grand-Daddy of the 30 Major…
Great Accuracy Restored after Solving Mystery Problem
To get his 30 Major rig shooting this well, Mike had to solve a mysterious problem that cropped up last year. Mike explains: “Two years running, I have finished in the top 15 in IBS points shooting [the 30 Major], but last year’s benchrest season was tough.” Mike was having some accuracy issues that defied explanation. But he figured it out: “The front action screw was bottoming out against the barrel extension – just barely. A simple fix brought the gun back to life. It’s a Stiller Viper Drop Port. The action is screwed and glued into the stock, so I was a bit surprised … especially after having checked for [that issue] while looking for the problem. I’m just glad to have found the trouble so I can begin to re-instill some confidence in the gun and myself, after last year.”
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Shooting ranges have gone upscale with the development of the “Guntry Club”. This new kind of recreational/social facility combines a shooting range with Country Club style amenities. Imagine a high-tech indoor range with “Pro Shop”, restaurant, and maybe outdoor shooting facilities as well. In the past five years, more and more of these deluxe “Guntry Clubs” have opened nationwide.
This week GunVenture TV takes a look at some of the country’s finest gun clubs. First, join Tom Gresham and RECOIL Magazine’s Iain Harrison at one of the original “Guntry Clubs” — the Scottsdale Gun Club. You’ll tour the exclusive Titanium lounge before heading to the range for some full-auto fun with Sig Sauer’s John Hollister. Then, Tom visits a very high-end facility in Centennial, Colorado. The upscale Centennial Gun Club features a retail store, range, training center, and lounge.
Finally, GunVenture visits the Talladega Super-Speedway, where Ryan Gresham takes a lap on the famous track before visiting at the CMP’s impressive new Talladega Marksmanship Park, which boasts state-of-the-art electronic targets.
Here’s a CBS News report on upscale “Guntry Clubs”, luxurious facilities that target younger, more affluent patrons. Chip Reid reports on a high-end gun club in Manassas, Virginia: “This is not your Grandfather’s shooting range. Elite Shooting Sports is 65000 Square feet of bright lights, polished wood, flat-screen TVs, and state of the art equipment”.
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Federal has created an award-winning Bullet Breakdown Video (below) that demonstrates how various hunting bullets perform in ballistic gelatin. This and other videos are found on Federal Premium Ammunition’s YouTube Channel. The Bullet Breakdown Video features four bullet types used in Federal Ammo: Nosler Ballistic Tip; Sierra GameKing; Trophy Bonded Tip; and Barnes Triple-Shock X-Bullet. (Note: you may want to turn down the volume before playback.)
Federal’s high-resolution, slow-motion video-graphy helps demonstrate which loads are the best for specific uses. The ultra-slo-mo footage provides a detailed view of each bullet penetrating ballistic gelatin blocks. These blocks closely mimic animal tissue and clearly display performance characteristics.
“The Bullet Breakdown Video is a great tool for hunters trying to decide on ammunition type,” said Federal’s Jason Nash. “Properly preparing for the hunt is crucial-and not all bullets are made the same. The bullet is the one link between hunter and game and can be the difference between success and failure. This video helps show hunters how different bullet construction affects terminal performance[.]” For more info, visit www.FederalPremium.com.
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At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Cabela’s — Vortex Crossfire 6-24x50mm, $179.99 with Code
Here’s a killer deal if you want a very affordable medium magnification zoom optic for target work or a varmint rifle. We like the 6-24 magnification range for a prarie dog rifle. You have both a wide field of view available and sufficiently high magnification (24X) to see small prey at 400 yards. This has a simple but reliable front parallax control. This scope is on sale at Cabela’s for $199.99, but this week you can save an additional $20.00 with CODE “176YF20″.
2. Grafs.com — Magnetospeed Sporter $178.99
If you have been waiting to get a Magnetospeed… wait no longer. Priced at just $178.99 at Grafs.com, the Magnetospeed Sporter model costs less than half as much as Magnetospeed’s V3 models. This chronograph attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t have to go downrange to position tripods and set up skyscreens. For most people the Sporter Model contains all the features they need. Using Magnetospeed’s XFR adapter (sold separately), data can be transferred easily from the display module to your mobile device. READ Magnetospeed Sporter Review.
The Jewell trigger is still probably the most commonly-used trigger in benchrest competition. Right now at Grafs.com you can get a Remington 700-compatible Jewell benchrest trigger for $169.99 — that’s $30.00 of the regular price. This single-stage trigger adjusts from 1 ounce to 3 ounces pull-weight, and has a crisp, precise release. This will fit Rem 700 actions as well as Rem-compatible custom actions. This trigger does NOT have a safety and it is NOT recommended for hunting applications. (Sale tip from EdLongrange.)
4. CDNN Sports — Ruger American Ranch Rifle (Tan), $349.99
Here’s a nice little varmint rifle from Ruger with good features and performance at a killer price: $349.99. You could pay that much just for a barrel. This .223 Rem rifle features a 16.5″ hammer-forged barrel barrel threaded 1/2″-28 at the muzzle for brake or suppressor. The action, which features a 70° three-lug bolt, and Picatinny-style scope rail, sits in an aluminum bedding block. The crisp trigger adjusts down to 3 pounds. With a weight (before optics) of 6.1 pounds, this is a handy carry-around varminter. We like this rifle. For $349.99 it’s a steal.
5. Bullets.com — Bald Eagle Range Bags, $24.95 – $29.95
High-quality Bald Eagle Range Bags are now on sale at Bullets.com. These versatile bags are very well- made and durable. With thickly-padded slab sides and padded internal dividers, these bags hold their shape and don’t collapse like most range bags. We use the larger 20″ bag to transport our spotting scope and MagnetoSpeed chrono. The smaller 15″ bag will hold ammo, rangefinder, Kestrel, shooting glasses and all your miscellaneous gear. We have used these bags for years and endorse them. The Cordura nylon fabric is tough, and the zippers are high-quality. With these sale prices, $24.95 for the 15″ size and $29.95 for the 20″ size, you won’t be disappointed. A variety of colors are offered: Red, Black, Green, Camo, Navy (15″ only), and Pink (15″ only).
6. Midsouth — 17 HMR V-Max Ammo, $9.75 for 50 rounds
Need 17 HMR ammo for your planned 2017 varmint safaris? Then grab this Hornady V-Max ammo while you can at $9.75 for a 50-round box. This is a great price. Other vendors are selling the same Hornady ammo for as much as $13.50 per box. We’ve used this ammo and it was very accurate out of both semi-auto (Savage A17) and bolt-action (CZ 455) 17 HMR rifles.
7. Sportsman’s Guide — Frankford Arsenal Case Tumbler Kit
For just $69.99, this Frankford Arsenal Kit provides everything you need to clean brass: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Bucket, Corn Cob Media (3 lbs.), and Brass Polish. The Case Tumbler holds up to 600 9mm cases or 350 .223 Rem cases. The separator system is generous, with a 3.5-gallon bucket. NOTE: Sportsman’s Guide Buyers Club members can purchase for $62.99.
8. Grafs/Midsouth — Vista Outdoor $10 Rebate and T-Shirt Offer
With Vista Outdoor’s 2nd Amendment Rebate, you can get $10 back and a T-Shirt. Purchase $50 or more of select Vista Outdoor products to receive a $10 mail-in rebate. Purchase $100 to get a limited-edition 2nd Amendment t-shirt. This promotion can be combined with all other current offers for Vista Outdoor brands. Featured brands include: Alliant Powder, Bushnell, CCI, Champion, Federal, Hoppes, RCBS, Savage, Simmons, Speer, Tasco, Weaver and more. Purchase products through Grafs.com, Midsouth and other leading retailers. Rebate Offer valid through March 31, 2017.
9. NRA & MidwayUSA — NRA Life Membership, $600.00
Here’s the best deal going right now on an NRA Life Membership. This normally costs $1500.00, but if you CLICK HERE, you can get a life membership for just $600.00, thanks to an NRA/MidwayUSA promotion. You can also save on 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year NRA memberships. Note: This is a limited-time offer.
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Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.
• Magnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.
• Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.
• Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.
• Pin Vise – A simple $7.00 pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm pin vise bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores.
• Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets eliminate “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.
• Ballistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon of your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.
• Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.
• Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.
• Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.
• Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).
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